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As forest fires rage in Russia's remote Yakutia region, local government rejects offer of help from Hollywood's Leonardo DiCaprio

As forest fires rage in Russia's remote Yakutia region, local government rejects offer of help from Hollywood's Leonardo DiCaprio
Authorities in Siberia's Yakutia region have rejected an offer of help from Leonardo DiCaprio, after the Hollywood A-Lister pledged to assist the area’s battle against wildfires that have now engulfed more than 600,000 hectares.

In a conversation with blogger and activist Roza Dyachkovskaya, DiCaprio revealed that he would speak to his team and then contact the local government.

“I have heard you,” he wrote. “I and my management will look into it, then we will talk with the authorities in charge to see how we can be of help.”

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“I pray all [will] be well with Siberia,” he concluded.

Aside from his acting, DiCaprio is well-known for his climate activism, having established his own foundation to promote environmental awareness. He also regularly speaks in public about global warming, pressuring politicians to make changes.

In response, Yakutia's Deputy Minister of Ecology politely declined DiCaprio’s help, noting that the authorities could cope on their own with the raging wildfires.

“It is gratifying that the stars pay attention to such situations,” Sergey Sivtsev told Russia’s Channel 5, inviting the actor to visit the region.

Yakutia is currently engulfed in massive wildfires, and the latest estimates suggest around 603,000 hectares of forest are in flames, including 30,500 hectares of specially protected natural areas, such as the Lena Pillars Park (a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site). Russia’s Ministry for Emergency Situations has deployed over 2,000 personnel to help restore normality.

The region's Ministry of Ecology believes that the catastrophe has been caused by extremely abnormal heat, with a government report stating that this is the first time in 150 years of observations that such temperatures have been recorded in a period of little precipitation.

Yakutia is located in Russia’s far north, around 5,000 kilometers away from Moscow. The region is famous for its frigid temperatures and is home to the world’s coldest permanently inhabited settlement, Oymyakon. The village, with around 500 residents, regularly sees values drop below -40 degrees Celsius in winter.

However, in recent times, Yakutia’s weather has hit the headlines for its extreme heat. In June last year, the region recorded the highest-ever temperature inside the arctic circle, with the thermometer hitting a scorching 38C (over 100F).

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